Periconception obesity is associated with a higher risk for adverse perinatal outcomes such as gestational diabetes mellitus, preeclampsia, large for gestational age, operative delivery and preterm birth. Lifestyle interventions during pregnancy have resulted in insufficient effects on reducing these perinatal complications. A few reasons for this disappointing effect can be suggested: (1) the time period during pregnancy for improvement of developmental circumstances is too short; (2) the periconception period in which complications originate is not included; and (3) lifestyle interventions may not have been sufficiently multidisciplinary and customised. A preconception lifestyle intervention might be more effective to reduce perinatal complications. Therefore, the aim of the Towards Prepared mums study is to evaluate the effect of a lifestyle intervention starting prior to conception on lifestyle behaviour change.
This protocol outlines a non-blinded, randomised controlled trial. One hundred and twelve women (18–40 years of age) with overweight or obesity (body mass index≥25.0 kg/m2) who plan to conceive within 1 year will be randomised to either the intervention or care as usual group. The intervention group will receive a multidisciplinary, customised lifestyle intervention stimulating physical activity, a healthy diet and smoking cessation, if applicable. The lifestyle intervention and monitoring will take place until 12 months postpartum. The primary outcome is difference in weight in kg from baseline to 6 weeks postpartum. Secondary outcomes are gestational weight gain, postpartum weight retention, smoking cessation, dietary and physical activity habits. Furthermore, exploratory outcomes include body composition, cardiometabolic alterations, time to pregnancy, need for assisted reproductive technologies, perinatal complications of mother and child, and lung function of the child. Vaginal and oral swabs, samples of faeces, breast milk, placenta and cord blood will be stored for evaluation of microbial flora, epigenetic markers and breast milk composition. Furthermore, a cost-effectiveness analysis will take place.